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The Real Axis of Evil
(Wealth vs. Poverty)

17 February 2003 * Richard Lancaster

It appears to me that terrorism is usually an outcome of oppression. Terrorism is the wrongful and unjustifiable expression of utter frustration at a lack of fair representation; a fight for freedom in many instances, and a cry for justice more often than not - economic justice, religious justice, cultural justice - a fight against injustice.

There is simply no justification for the killing of innocent people for a political or economic cause - just or not. Terrorism is an act that is abhorrent in the eyes of modern internationally recognized codes of conduct - terrorism perpetrated by a state on its citizens or by citizens against an entrenched political elite, are both equally condemned in the eyes of the objective, God-fearing, truth-seeking citizen of the world.

I would hope that we can all agree that using innocent people's lives in political games of chess designed to reshape the means of control over any group of people is not something that can be justified in this modern era. Humanity has matured beyond this point; a regression to this kind of behavior is a giant step backwards for us all.

However, sometimes in the real world it is seemingly necessary to go backwards in order to go forwards. But go forward we must as a race of beings on this beautiful blue and green ball. Clearly this cycle of tension and fear that we are all feeling globally, at least those of us who are "connected" enough to know what is going on (nearly half of our global population does not have access to a telephone so it is doubtful they know much at all about current events) is a necessary step backwards that will enable humanity to grasp more of the totality of its predicament, adjust its behavior and then resume forward movement again!

In order for forward progress to resume once more I believe it is essential that we learn some important home truths about our world, our position in it and our responsibility towards our fellow human beings.

The graph that follows shows some disturbing trends in terms of the wealth of the worlds top 20 nations versus the poverty of the bottom 20 nations. As you can clearly see from the chart the poorest people on earth, who are in the vast majority, have seen their income go from an average of nearly $450 average gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in 1980, down to a shocking $180 in 2000. The poorest people on earth have seen their incomes slashed in half and then some, in just 20 years!

Meanwhile the richest nations populations have seen their incomes increase from an average GDP per capita of around $12,000 in 1980 to over $30,000 in 2000 - almost a threefold increase in income. Many of us have been the beneficiaries of that huge increase in our nations fortunes - but what is the price for this newfound wealth, and what are the responsibilities we have now inherited as a result of this very large increase in living standards?

These questions seem almost beyond the capabilities of our corporate media to fathom, little to no time is spent asking the tough questions relating to the overall global picture.

As you can see from the chart I have added some interesting factoids regarding the amount of money that will be spent in the US alone on Weight Loss Products in 2003, juxtaposed against the fact that nearly 275 million people in our world are hungry right now. Please do not misunderstand me about this issue. It is not my belief that individually we can make much of a difference about this vast problem, and I'm not just pointing fingers and indulging in some aimless guilt trip. These are just the facts as I have discovered them through my own independent investigation of the truth.

What is abundantly clear to me about this data is that the wider that the income gap grows between the poor and the rich (The Chasm of Conflict), and the lower the average income is for the world's poorest, that the more unstable and tense our situation is likely to be. I submit that there is a correlation between the exploding poverty on earth and the exploding bombs of terrorists. Sure there are religious fundamentalists on all sides of the issue, and some are worse than others, but the real Axis of Evil is clearly shown on the chart.

The map below shows parts of the Middle East, Northwest Africa and parts of the Indian subcontinent. The dark green countries are where the highest infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births occurred in 1999 (the latest data I could find) - infant mortality is a travesty and a leading indicator of poverty. As you can see those countries are Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Ethiopia and Chad. There are other countries around the world that had high infant mortality rates, but this segment of the overall map represents the countries with the very worst problems. What jumped out at me here was that most of the major conflicts between the West and developing nations in the past 15 years have been in these countries (with the exception of Chad). It would appear that there might be a correlation between poverty, as measured by infant deaths, and military intervention by the West.

Now I am not suggesting that the West is directly responsible for the wholesale deaths of babies in foreign lands, far from it. But I can say with some conviction that a country that is losing its babies at an alarming rate is probably harboring a disproportionate amount of desperately unhappy, angry and potentially negatively motivated mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters.

War has such a devastating impact on a country and its people. Waging war against the poorest nations on earth in order to force regime change, or to capture terrorists, should be the option of last resort, and even then should be backed by a strong international coalition and the moral authority that comes with the complete backing of the international community, United Nations and peoples of all supporting nations.

Perhaps an extended program of humanitarian relief and medical aid could bring about the needed changes internally in some of these troubled countries, at a fraction of the cost of a massive war in terms of human suffering?

Whatever the future holds for us all it seems apparent that the sheer size of the problems humanity faces will require nothing less than the spiritual realization on a global societal level that we are all One Race of Beings on One Planet. The quicker we reach that critical vision of our interdependence the quicker we can move away from our destructive tendencies and concentrate on building a sustainable future for our children, grandchildren and beyond.

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